Virtual classroom

Collaborate Ultra is the University’s virtual classroom platform and the supported tool of choice for synchronous learning and teaching sessions.  It allows for audio, video, interactive whiteboard, PowerPoint display, application sharing, polling, breakout rooms and session recording. It can be used for an interactive online seminar or virtual classroom.

Collaborate can be used by staff and students. It can be used for one-to-one meetings, tutorial space, student discussions or an informal chat, contact to ask more about setting up sessions.

Collaborate Ultra is also integrated with the Hub meaning tutors can set up sessions and restrict access to authenticated users enrolled within a Hub area, providing the ability to verify the identity of a participant. External guests can also be invited to Collaborate sessions within the Hub.

Blackboard Collaborate student information

What is Collaborate?

Collaborate is a virtual classroom/meeting tool. It can be used for online teaching, online seminars, virtual office hours, one-to-one meetings, tutorial space, student discussions or informal chat. It is integrated with the Hub but can also be used without the Hub.

Accessing Collaborate:

To join a Collaborate session you will need:

  • Internet Access (broadband connection highly recommended)
  • For the best experience, use Google Chrome or Firefox : Browser Support
  • Soundcard with microphone and headphones (A headset with microphone/headphones is highly recommended)
  • Webcam (optional)

You can check that you are able to access sessions using Collaborate Ultra Test Session


As a Participant in a session you should prepare by reading Session Best Practices

Netiquette Guidelines

Netiquette is etiquette for the Internet: guidelines and good practices for online communication in emails, discussion forums, and chat rooms. Please adhere to the following guidelines when posting comments in our training course:

  • Format your text so it is easy to read. Try to use standard paragraph spacing, indentation, and legible font. Try to be consistent with your formatting, including font size, colour, etc.
  • Be concise and to the point in your communication. Limit discussion forum posts to a few paragraphs. Proofread and edit your work before posting.
  • AVOID THE USE OF ALL CAPS as this may be interpreted as shouting. All lowercase letters also make the text more difficult to read. Use standard punctuation. Remember what your teacher taught you in primary school about good punctuation and spelling.
  • Avoid 'texting' abbreviations such as OMG.
  • Avoid using humour and sarcasm, as they are often difficult to detect in written communication. It is okay to sparingly use emoticons to communicate subtleties or emotions that are more obvious in spoken communication.
  • Flaming (posting a rant about someone or some topic) is prohibited in our courses. Practice civil discussion.
  • Respect the privacy of communication within a course. Do not forward the comments of classmates to others outside of the course or publish them on social media.
  • Stay on topic in a discussion.
  • Respect the fact that participants have varying degrees of sensitivity, and that even some well-meaning constructive suggestions (e.g., comments about broken links, typos, misspellings) may be misconstrued as public criticism. Therefore, please refrain from sharing comments in ways that might be misinterpreted, or do so privately when appropriate.


How to add Collaborate to a Hub module

Collaborate is integrated into the Hub allowing anyone enrolled on a module to participate in a virtual classroom.

Inviting external users to a virtual classroom

When a classroom has been created in the Hub, a guest URL can be copied and emailed to external users or used as a web page link.

Watch a Tutor video: How to Add Collaborate in your Hub module

Session Preparation and Checklist

Preparation Checklist

You should carry out some checks one week before you are due to attend a session. You can check that you can get into a Collaborate Ultra Test Session and check your camera and microphone is set up correctly. You can also work through the short online tutorial to get familiar with the layout. 

To carry out these checks use the Collaborate Ultra Test Session


Check you can access and participate in a session using the Collaborate Ultra Test Session

Blackboard Help: Session Best Practices

Collaborate Attendee Checklist 

Required Equipment and Software

To join a Collaborate session you will need the following

  • Internet Access (broadband connection highly recommended)
  • Soundcard with microphone and headphones (A headset with microphone/headphones is highly recommended)
  • Webcam (optional)
  • For the best experience, use Google Chrome. Please note Internet Explorer 11 is not supported and other browsers may have limited functionality.  Check Browser Support for Collaborate configurations in different browsers.

Check you are set up correctly be accessing the Collaborate Ultra Test Session 

Where can I get more assistance with Collaborate?

Further Help guides and resources

Other videos can be viewed from the links below

Share PowerPoint files (2:19 mins)

Session Settings  (1:57 mins)

Private chat (1:43 mins)

Polling (1:16 mins)

Breakout groups (0:58 mins)

Share files to Breakout groups (0:48 mins)

Closed Captioning (1:00 mins)

Session Best Practice Guidelines (link to Blackboard webpage)

If you require further assistance using Collaborate, please contact

Troubleshooting Audio and Video

Switch to Chrome 

Do not access Collaborate through Horizon Remote Access. Only a chrome browser is required.

For the best experience you should use the latest version of Google Chrome Browser. if you are not using this already please re-join the session from the original join link using this browser.

Configure Audio and Video in Chrome

You must give the browser permission to use audio and video to participate in a session. 

Blackboard have provided some instructions on how to set up your camera and microphone when using Chrome

Close down other Windows

If your camera and audio are switching off during a session it might be that your bandwidth is struggling to cope. Try closing everything else down on your computer whilst in a session, have no other tabs or windows open. 

Chrome uses the computer's default speakers. Check that the correct speakers are selected for your OS. If you are using headphones then they will show up in the list.

On a Mac go to Apple > System Preferences > Sound. Windows go to Control Panel > Sound or search for Sound and select Sound from the Control Panel in the search menu.

I get a continual purple spinning circle when trying to access a session

I get a continual purple spinning circle when trying to access a session

Collaborate Ultra requires cookies in order to work properly. Check your browser settings to ensure that your browser is set to allow third party cookies.

Clear Browser Cache

Try clearing browser cache and restarting a session.

Instructions to clear browser cache. 

Collaborate Ultra help guidance

Watch a tour of the Collaborate interface

Blackboard Collaborate Mobile App

There are app for tablets and smartphones which are easy to use and makes use of the device webcam and microphone. Download on your iPhone or iPod touch or Download on your Android device 

Attending a session 

Do Not use the Horizon VMWare remote access to open Chrome

Open a Chrome browser and click on the link below to attend the session

You can test your computer audio and video work using the test room

Blackboard Help

Blackboard Help: User Interface Tour

Blackboard Help : Collaborate Homepage

Getting started in Collaborate : Moderator

Getting started in Collaborate : Participant

Roles within Collaborate

IT Services

Looking for support?

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